Fife football officials and supporters celebrate a notable milestone as their club turns 100.

St. Andrews United was founded on May 17, 1921 to provide World War I service personnel with more recreational activities, and the young outfit quickly became one of the top semi-professional teams in Fife.

Indeed, St. Andrews United has had several successful periods over the past century, with members of the current committee holding an exhibition in town to mark the club’s big birthday.

© SYSTEM The winning team returned to St. Andrews in 1960 with the trophy

United’s most notable performance came in May 1960 when Romeo Borella scored two goals Scottish Junior Cup Final Victory over Greenock, but the club has also won the Fife Junior League seven times.

Club historian and secretary Donald Gellatly says: “I am very pleased that the 100-year-old exhibition is taking place upstairs in ‘The Citizen Building’, given the current concerns about Covid-19.

“The club has already postponed a marquee evening, a day of golf and a special friendly against Greenock because of the pandemic, but I started planning the exhibition more than a year ago.

© Steve Brown / DCT Media St Andrews United’s historian Donald Gellatly

“Fortunately, the Scottish Government lifted some of the Covid-19 restrictions in late April to keep the exhibition going as planned in a safe environment.”

exhibition

For example, visitors to the J & G Innes gallery on the corner of South Street and Church Street can read about the rich history of St. Andrews United, view player profiles on the ‘Wall of Fame’ and familiarize themselves with faces in old team photos.

There is a wide variety of memorabilia to choose from including old fashioned leather balls, medals, flags, pennants, trophies, programs, and stripes.

© Supplied by Donald Gellatly St. Andrews United Anniversary Exhibition

A history booklet is also available from J&G Innes throughout the exhibition, which is full of statistics, stories and photos.

Donald adds, “I hope Auld Gray Toun supporters and visitors enjoy the exhibition, whether they spend a few minutes looking at the photos or reading the articles on the walls.

“My favorite piece is an exact replica of the shirt that was worn in the Scottish Cup final in 1960 and that Mr. Borella signed!

“The Citizen is a great place to hold an exhibition because of its layout and central location on the corner of South Street and Church Street.

© Supplied by Donald Gellatly St. Andrews United Anniversary Exhibition

“The building dates from the Middle Ages and is worth a visit in itself, while the staff are always very helpful.”

First confusion over centenary dates

Donald previously told The Courier how the first problem with choosing dates for the centenary events was deciding when the club was actually formed.

The committee in the mid-1980s added the date of 1920 to the official badge based on recommendations from the Scottish Youth Football Association.

The current St. Andrews United was believed to be a continuation of a club called St. Andrews Comrades.

© Supplied by Donal Gellatly St. Andrews United Anniversary Exhibition

However, a quick online search of the British National Newspaper Archive a few years ago clearly showed that these two sites were completely different outfits.

Further research resulted in the discovery of the actual date of St. Andrews United’s founding on May 17, 1921.

The two-week exhibition on J&G Innes runs through May 24th. Entry to the exhibition is free, but donations are welcome.

Anniversary of the famous Scottish Junior Cup victory

2020 marked the 60th anniversary of the greatest day in the history of St. Andrews United Football Club, as featured in The Courier.

© SYSTEM The famous team in Hampden after winning the Scottish Junior Cup in 1960

United traveled to May 21, 1960 Hampden Park to play against Greenock Juniors in the Scottish Junior Cup Final.

Remarkably, the 11 men who faced Greenock against Greenock in front of 34,603 fans at Scotland’s National Stadium had never before been overall at the end of a season in which St. Andrews Club suffered only one loss on the road to winning the Fife League title played.

The team was also selected by the club committee rather than the coach and went into the final as massive underdogs.

In true “Roy of the Rovers” fashion, however, the Fifers returned to St. Andrews not only with the trophy after a 3-1 win, but also with their own “Roy Race”, a Romeo Borella.

© SYSTEM Tommy Will and Romeo Borella at a St. Andrews United game in 2019

Crail’s restorer defeated Tail o ‘the Bank goalkeeper Mike McGinlay in two great solo appearances in the second half after switching positions with Jock Fraser from outside left to inside right during the break.

Future Rangers and Newcastle United star Willie Penman then added the third.

The victorious troupe was greeted enthusiastically in St. Andrews when thousands of cheering locals met between the West Harbor and City Hall.

Captain and future umpire John Hughes held the Scottish Cup out of the window of the team bus as the procession ran down South Street and the heroic players met the Lord Provost before enjoying a long night of festivities at the Cross Keys Hotel in Market Square.

© SYSTEM The winning team returned to St. Andrews in 1960 with the trophy

Borella recalled last year that St. Andrews United players’ confidence was high due to some impressive results in previous rounds against impressive opponents.

What crossed their minds most, however, were the cheering scenes as the final whistle sounded and the enthusiastic reception when they got home in St. Andrews.

Pleasant research

As 2020 approached the 60th anniversary, Donald Gellatly shared how much he loved exploring the details of this remarkable day.

© Steve Brown / DCT Media St. Andrews United historian and secretary Donald Gellatly

“The final whistle finally went off and the traveling St. Andrews fans roared appreciatively as United captain John Hughes climbed the steps of Hampden’s main booth to collect the most prestigious trophy in junior football,” Donald told The Courier.

“Borella later expressed disappointment that the stewards prevented the ceremonial squad from showing the trophy around the field, but there were no such problems when the victorious players returned to St. Andrews.

“United’s medalist in the left half and bulldozer driver Tommy Will recalled that the streets of various villages in North East Fife were lined with well-wishers on the way home, while the team bus was having trouble driving down South Street in St. Andrews because the crowd was so great.

“Will also remembers a pipe chapel marching in front of the bus and the citizens’ reception at City Hall before the festivities resume at the Cross Keys Inn.

“Borella, who played with a broken jaw in the final, also notes that the Scottish Cup heroes had never played together as an eleven before, although Will says this would never be a problem as all players rely on each other and on the players team spirit was fantastic.

“The result meant that St. Andrews United were only the second Fife team to win the Scottish Junior Cup (after Inverkeithing United in the 1912/13 season), but Borella and Will are the only surviving members of the famous starting XI Day 60 years ago. “